Most of America’s employers (90 percent) have been negatively impacted by tired employees, with half saying they’ve had an employee fall asleep on the job, according to a new National Safety Council survey. Fifty-seven percent of employers have experienced absenteeism, and another 32 percent report injuries and near-misses due to fatigued employees, according to the survey.
Fatigue not only hurts employees’ wellbeing and safety, but it also carries a significant price tag. An employer with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than $1 million each year in missed workdays, lower productivity and increased healthcare due to employee fatigue.
The survey report, Fatigue in the Workplace: Risky Employer Practices, is the second in a three-part series on fatigue in the workplace. It is released during National Safety Month, observed each June to educate about the third leading cause of death in the U.S. – preventable, accidental injuries.
“This survey shows that employers are waking up to a hidden workplace hazard – too many employees are running on empty,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and addressing fatigue in workplaces will help eliminate preventable deaths and injuries.”
Thirteen percent of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, a dangerous byproduct of personal risk factors and a society that operates 24 hours a day. The new data summarized in the report identify the workplace practices and policies that are contributing to worker fatigue such as night shift and overtime scheduling, a lack of time off between shifts, and inadequate rest areas within the workplace for employees to take breaks.
Other key survey findings in the report include:
- 90 percent of employers say they will meet with a fatigued employee to understand the root causes of the fatigue, but only 55 percent say they will adjust an employee’s schedule or tasks accordingly
- 74 percent of employers underestimate the prevalence of fatigue in the workforce
- 73 percent do not communicate to employees about fatigue
- 61 percent of employers do not believe their employees would feel comfortable telling them if they were too tired to perform their job safely
- 51 percent of employers allow a night shift immediately before or after a day shift, increasing the employee’s fatigue and risk of being injured
- 60 percent of employers lack a designated area for employees to rest
- Both reports are available online. Employers can calculate the costs of fatigue with the NSC Fatigue Cost Calculator.
Additional information about National Safety Month, including tips, resources and shareable materials, is available here.